The importance of supporting your local retro gaming bar/store

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We are in uncharted times in 2020, especially when it comes to local businesses.

Gaming bars & stores have been on the rise in the last decade, with customers coming in for an Irn Bru while playing Mario Kart 64, or looking to buy an Expansion Pak for their Nintendo 64 bought from eBay. Nostalgia seems to have grown up with those between 25-40, with bars like these being available in almost every city across the UK now.

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But with the pandemic, certain rules have come in where they had to close for up to three months, with some even closing due to the funds coming too late.

With that, here’s why you should visit a bar if you haven’t been to one as yet, and some to look out for that could do with some support.

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

The Akēdo_Gaming Bar in Lincoln has been growing ever since its launch in 2016, and when the pandemic hit, the bar suffered. Owner Toby Rovezzano had suffered from high-anxiety, waiting each day for the government grant to come in to help pay the bills.

Their offer of games in the downstairs area alongside drinks and being able to book out the whole bar came to a stop at the end of March, but now that it’s back open, procedures are in place to keep it clean and to enforce a COVID-safe bar.

But Toby also used the shutdown to the bar’s advantage, and managed to refurbish the bar from top to bottom. Allowing even more games to be played, and in more groups too, alongside an updated décor. So if you wanted a match on Halo 2 on an original Xbox, or even a Tekken 3 tournament on a PlayStation Classic, it can now be done.

Akedo is just one example of how they have had to adapt to a post-COVID world. But with safeguards in place, it’s also up to the customers to abide by the rules and use the sanitisers across the bar when needed.

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A Peggy Mitchell HD Remaster

Other bars such as ‘Four Quarters’ in London and ‘NQ64’, with bars in Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham are also open with safeguards in place, but there have been others that have seemingly disappeared from the internet.

'Loading Bar' in Stratford and 'Alt Gaming Lounge' in Nottingham seem to have gotten rid of their social accounts and website, supposedly feeling the brunt of the pandemic.

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This is why the time is now to support your local gaming bar. Introduce your family and friends to these independent bars that some speak of. Show them the games that have defined many people out there, which has in-turn inspired them to make careers from it, while also trying to help inspire the next generation of gamers.

Akedo 23 03 2020 SS 0743
Image credit to Steve Smailes

For so long many have even been embarrassed to what they enjoy, but if 2020 has proven anything, it's that we must encourage and push everyone around us to let them be heard about what they enjoy. It could be Rise of the Robots, it could be the Phillips CDI, but if they enjoy it, we should drive them on.

Independent businesses like gaming bars are the exact same offering. It's a dream to many to have a bar like this, especially in their hometown, and some, like 'Akēdo' and 'NQ64' have achieved it. It's merely up to us to help support them even more in these times. We should all show people around us that these bars are welcoming, encouraging places, with no rhyme or reason to belittle anyone in their interests.

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So if you're struggling right now and you want to go somewhere with your friends, there's no better place than to visit these bars, and try out the many tournaments that these bars offer. From 'The Simpsons' to 'Mortal Kombat', there is something for everyone; you just may not know it yet until you visit.

Akedo 23 03 2020 SS 0751 2
Image credit to Steve Smailes.

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